UN force to counter DRC rebels

United Nations - The United Nations wants to set up a 2 000-strong “intervention brigade” to tackle armed groups fueling strife in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, UN officials said Friday.

Tanzania and South Africa are leading contenders to provide the first special force to bolster the UN mission in DR Congo, diplomats said.

File image - Fighters from the Congolese Revolutionary Army ride on a truck in Rushuru, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thousands of Congolese civilians fled to neighbouring Uganda on Friday to escape clashes between rebel factions. Credit: Reuters

The UN Security Council has also authorized the use of surveillance drones in eastern DR Congo, where the M23 rebel group briefly took the provincial capital of Goma in late November.

The intervention brigade and the drones could be in operation within three months, a UN official said on condition of anonymity.

The drones will mainly monitor the border with Rwanda, which UN experts accuse of arming and financing the M23 rebellion against the government. Rwanda denies the charge.

The presidents of DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Angola, Republic of Congo, South Africa and Tanzania are set to sign a UN-brokered accord relaunching political efforts to bring peace to the region on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on Monday, officials said.

The UN mission in DR Congo, MONUSCO, is the global body's biggest peacekeeping force. It currently has about 17 000 troops and under its UN Security Council mandate is allowed to have up to 19 800 troops. - Sapa-AFP